Where salt hides

Published: August, 2012

The list of salty foods seems obvious: potato chips, popcorn, soup and other canned foods, hot dogs. Yet sodium lurks in foods you wouldn't expect. The CDC's list of top sodium offenders includes breads and rolls, pizza, poultry, sandwiches, cheese, and pasta dishes.

More than 40% of our daily sodium intake comes from go-to foods like these. Since sodium is everywhere, how can you cut back?

Start by reading food labels. Look at the amount of sodium per serving, and also at the percentages of daily recommended sodium allowance. Consider using products labeled "salt free" or "no salt added," or "low-sodium."

Try not to add sodium to the foods you eat. Other seasonings, such as garlic, cumin, and vinegar, can add flavor to your food without compromising your heart health. Avoid condiments such as soy sauce, ketchup, teriyaki sauce, and salad dressings, which tend to be loaded with sodium. At restaurants, ask to have your food prepared without salt.

Even if you've come to rely on salt to enhance the taste of your food, you can unlearn this unhealthy habit. "It is possible to train your taste buds," Dr. Delichatsios says. "If you reduce your amount of salt over time, food won't taste bland to you."

For more on developing healthy heart habits, purchase the Health Special Report from Harvard Medical School, Controlling Your Blood Pressure, with its special section "Conquering Your Salt Habit".

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